13 Jun 2014

Guilty plea over teen rugby death

7:30 pm on 13 June 2014

A teenager has admitted punching a 15-year-old who had a heart condition and who later died.

Stephen Dudley died in hospital after a fight on an Auckland school rugby field in June last year.

A 17-year-old had been charged with manslaughter but the Crown replaced the charge with one of assault with intent to injure following expert medical opinions.

The teenager pleaded guilty when he appeared in the High Court at Auckland on Friday. He will be sentenced in August.

The teenager's lawyer, John Munro, said outside the court his client would be able to get on with his life once the case had been dealt with.

"Because he's a young man with still a lot of prospect and has never been in trouble before, we'll be looking to obtain a discharge without conviction," Mr Munro said.

"The defendant understands that he's made a very tragic error in his life that he never wants to do again, and he's learned a lot from it."

The court had previously been told heard Stephen had an undiagnosed heart condition, leaving him vulnerable to problems with his heart rhythm when stressed.

In a memorandum to the court, Crown prosecutor Aaron Perkins said medical reports showed it would be unlikely to be able to prove the charge of manslaughter.

Another teenager, aged 16, has already admitted a charge of assault and has been discharged without conviction. Both have name suppression.